The Coming Kingdom 018

Dr. Andy Woods | Sep 6, 2017 | Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | The Coming Kingdom

Andy Woods  The Coming Kingdom 9-6-17  Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43  Lesson 18

If we could open our Bibles to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13 and verse 24.  Some of  you are here for the first time and saying what in the world is going on in this class.   Don’t feel bad, that’s how I felt today trying to get ready because our last lesson was May 17.  Did  you know that?  So my mind has been on other things so I had to back and read my own book and figure out what’s in it?   [Laughter]  It’s scary how much information you lose; but the nice thing is when you lose it, it comes back faster.  [Someone says wait till you get older]

But we have been doing a study on the subject of the kingdom and let me sort of remind us the ground we’ve covered.  We’ve had 17 lessons so here’s basically what we’re looking at.  We’re trying to explore what does the Bible say about the kingdom.  And we start our journey in the Garden of Eden, where God was reigning over Adam and his wife and they were governing creation for God.  And that’s really the beginning of the kingdom.  And of course we know the sad story, Adam and Even stopped governing creation for God, they started listening to the animals and the kingdom is lost to the earth at that point, Genesis 3.  And who becomes the God of this age?  Satan.

So the story of the Bible really is how that kingdom is brought back to the earth.  And as you go through the Old Testament  you start to see hints of it in what’s called the Abrahamic Covenant, where God calls a particular nation, the nation of Israel to Himself and He begins that nation through the patriarch, Abraham.  And we know that from the Abrahamic Covenant God gave Israel ownership over three things, land seed and blessing.  So we know that the kingdom is going to come to the earth through Israel as God is going to fulfill those promises in the Abrahamic Covenant, Genesis 15.  That’s about 2000 B.C. when that covenant was entered into.

And then we went about 600 years from there into the future and we got to Mt. Sinai where God gave the nation of Israel another covenant called the Mosaic Covenant.  So the Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional but the Mosaic Covenant is conditional.  The Abrahamic Covenant gave to Israel ownership of her blessings but the Mosaic Covenant gives to Israel possession or enjoyment of her blessings IF she obeys the covenant terms.  Who does the Mosaic Covenant ultimately point towards?  Jesus!   So we spent a lot of time talking about the difference between ownership and possession.  Israel will always own her blessings but she doesn’t actually enter into those blessings until she responds to the conditional Mosaic Covenant.

So the whole covenant program and the whole kingdom program is basically revolved around Israel’s response to her own Messiah.  As long as Israel is in unbelief Israel will be the owner but not the possessor and the kingdom of God will not be cancelled but postponed.   But once the time in history comes where Israel receives her Messiah then she’s the owner and the possessor and the kingdom will come to the earth.  So we spent some time talking about that.

And from there we went to the divided kingdom.  Under whose reign was the kingdom divided? Solomon, actually when Solomon left the throne that’s when the kingdom was divided between the north and the south.  Now of those two divisions which one do we keep our eye on?  The south, Judah.  And the reason that’s so is because Judah has the promise, going back to Genesis 49:10, that through Judah is going to come the Messiah.  [Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”]

So Judah wanders off into captivity and we explained that we’re actually studying the Book of Daniel on Sunday mornings, which explains the circumstances of that captivity.  But once the captivity started Judah is taken to Babylon, 350 miles to the east; God is disciplining her because of her idolatry.  And it’s during that time, the times of the Gentiles, and this is where Daniel has the interpretation of the statue in Daniel 2, where he clearly sees various Gentile powers that are going to trample down the nation of Israel while the kingdom is in postponement.

And while the kingdom is in postponement God raises up prophets who sort of function as a lamp shining in a dark place.  Peter tells us that in 2 Peter 1:19. [2 Peter 1:19, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”]  And they sketch a beautiful picture of what the kingdom will be like one day once it comes to the earth, to give Israel (and really the human race) hope in the midst of difficulty that the kingdom is in postponement.

So went through a lot of those prophecies and then we traced Judah coming back into the land and as they come back into their land they begin to rebuild the temple, they’ve rebuilt the walls around the city of Jerusalem.  And yet the kingdom is still in postponement.  Israel is being trampled down by various Gentile powers.  The first was Babylon, then came Persia; it’s under the Persian Empire that the nation goes back into the land.  And then came Greece, and then came Rome, Rome was a terrible usurper, taxing the Jews heavily and so forth.

But it’s under the empire of Rome that who shows up?  Jesus Christ!  And He presents to the nation of Israel the offer of the kingdom, which is “repent for the kingdom of heaven is” what? “at hand.”  So had the nation of Israel enthroned the king they would have been not just the owner but the possessor of her blessings and the kingdom would have come.  And that’s really what’s being traced in the Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke particularly.

But tragically the gospels explain that the nation of Israel turned down the offer.  And does anybody recall the chapter in the Bible that does that.  [Someone says John 12:37]  Yeah, I think it is in John 12:37 but which one in Matthew?  Matthew 12.  Matthew 12 is an explanation of the rejection of the offer of the kingdom.   And at that point the religious leaders attributed Christ’s miracles to who? Satan.  And so once they do that it’s sort of a done deal.  We know that first century Israel is going to reject the offer.

And so what the Lord begins to describe, not in Matthew 12 but in Matthew 13 is what we call an interim period of time, which is the period of time that we’re living in today.  We’ve been living in it for the last 2,000 years, when the kingdom is in postponement, not cancellation but postponement.  And this is the section of Scripture that most governs us and a lot of times we have unrealistic expectations of what God is doing today.  He’s not bringing in the kingdom today but He clearly is at work.  And so we have to study this section of the Bible carefully so that we develop a balanced view on what God is doing today and what He’s not doing today.  So we made some comments about this interim age; it’s a very real age of time.  It’s caused by Israel’s unbelief.  It’s a time period of mystery, it’s never been revealed before anywhere in the Scripture until you get to Matthew 13.  It’s a time period where Jesus is not reigning as King but He’s functioning as high priest, not after the order of Aaron but after the order of MelchizedekIt’s an important age but it doesn’t represent the kingdom of God.

And to understand this time period that we’re in you have to really drill down on two areas of the Bible.  Number 1 the parables of Matthew 13 which describe the interadvent age, the period of time between the two comings of Christ.  It’s all spelled out for us what God is doing during that time period in the form of eight parables.  And then you also have to understand the church age which started with Pentecost and goes to the rapture, the body of Christ.  And we haven’t gotten to number 2, we won’t be getting to number 2 for a while; we’re spending our time through the next several weeks in Matthew 13.

So we went through some background to these Matthew13 parables.  Matthew 13 follows Matthew 12,  that’s logically arranged; 12 is the rejection of the offer of the kingdom, 13 is an explanation of what is happening now that the kingdom has been postponed.  These parables are a mystery, as we talked about before.  You can read the Old Testament all you want and you won’t get any information about this time period.  It only becomes evident after its apparent that Israel is going to reject the offer of the kingdom, Matthew 12.

These parables do not represent the kingdom of God but what they do is they represent the course of the present age which has been going on for about 2,000 years while the kingdom is in postpone­ment.  And what they describe are the experiences of the sons of the kingdom.  In fact, if you look at Matthew 13:38 you’ll see that expression there, the sons of the kingdom. “The field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom….”  Now Paul says “if a son then a” what? “an heir.”  So these are the experiences of those of us that are believers in Christ that will inherit the kingdom one day while the kingdom is not here and yet future.

And when you look at verses 35-36 it talks about how Jesus spoke these things in parables.  Now what is a parable?  It’s a heavenly story with an earthly meaning.  And He did not give His earlier teachings in parables.  He didn’t give the Sermon on the Mount in parables, but all of a sudden here He’s speaking in parables.  And the purpose of a parable is to reveal and conceal.  He is concealing truth from first century (because of their rejection of the offer of the kingdom) but He is revealing truth to who?  The disciples, or the sons of the kingdom, or those who will inherit the kingdom.  So the parabolic form of teaching is indicating that He is not teaching any more for the benefit of first century Israel as a whole.  First century Israel is going off into discipline, it’s very clear they’ve rejected His offer.  So He begins to teach in parabolic form to what He calls the babes or the children or the inheritors of this coming kingdom.

And the parables basically we have two divisions; He teaches the first four parables out in the open, to His disciples.  He basically is on the Sea of Galilee, He’s out on a boat, they’re on the shore and He speaks to them in four parables.  That’s the parable of the sower, the parable of the wheat and the tares, the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven.  And then when you get to Matthew 13:36 it says, “Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field,” to us.  So the final four parables He’s giving in private in the house and those are the parables of The Earthen Treasure, The Pearl of Great Price, The Parable of the Dragnet and the Parable of the Householder.  So that’s how Matthew organized this chapter.

Most people speculate, we have to speculate because we’re not given an answer as to why four parables are out in the open and four other parables are in private.  And my basic speculation is I think the first four parables totally depressed the disciples because the disciples up to this point in time are anticipating what?  The kingdom, it’s all about the kingdom.  They thought the kingdom was going to come, the kingdom was going to overthrow Rome, world peace would break out, the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.  There would be prosperity all over the earth.  And Jesus is saying that age will come one day but it’s going to be preceded by the course of the present age, the interadvent age which is going to be a time of difficulty.

And the first four parables really teach, not the kingdom manifestation on the earth but a time of tremendous apostasy and deception and spiritual blindness.  And I think by the time He got finished talking about all of that the poor apostles, who thought the kingdom was going to come then and there were just so dejected.  And so He gives the final four parables to them in private to say take heart guys, because even though it’s a time of apostasy and spiritual deception God is still going to work.  And He explains the work of God in the present age through the final four parables: the earthen treasure, the pearl of great price, the dragnet and householder.  So I think that’s why Matthew makes us aware of the fact that four of the parables were given in public and four were given in private.  I don’t know that for sure but that’s my best guess because these first four parables are somewhat depressing, especially when you think the kingdom is going to come right then and there as the first century disciples thought.

So let me just start here with this quote from one of my theological heroes, Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Seminary, and he says this: “Judging from the mass of Christian writings and from utterances in public address and prayer,” now he said this back in like… what? 1947, something like that, “this age is assumed by many, without question, to be the Kingdom of Christ;” then he says, “though no Scripture is found to warrant that conclusion.”  [Lewis Sperry Chafer, Satan: His Motives and Methods (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1990), 29]

And I love this quote because that describes our age because as you listen to different pastors  preach and  you look at different ministries and the things they say and if you look at their vision state­ments and mission statements they all think that they’re bringing in the kingdom.  They call themselves kingdom builders, we’re doing kingdom work you hear people say.  One gentleman wrote a book called The Kingdom Man.  So almost everywhere you look today it’s kingdom this, kingdom that and it sells well, I guess, in a sermon or on a marquee, but the problem is the Bible doesn’t teach it.  We’re not living in an age at all today where we’re bringing in the kingdom.

The kingdom won’t come until Israel accepts the King.  So until that happens you can’t expect the kingdom to come.  BUT don’t lose heart, God is still at work.  And so that’s the significance of these Matthew 13 parables.   Now thank you Ray, for going back and listening to the last lesson, you’re ahead of me on that, Ray assures me that we already covered the parable of the sower back in May.  Anybody remember that?  The parable of the sower is in Matthew 13:1-9 and its explained in verses 18-23 and basically what that parable teaches is during this interim age, while the kingdom is in postponement the gospel is going to be faithfully preached but does it say the whole world will be won to Christ?  It doesn’t say that at all.  It says it’s going to fall on four types of soil and in only one type of soil will the gospel be fruitful.

So Jesus is explaining the parable of the sower that look, don’t expect worldwide conversion in the present age.  And we know this to be the case because the sower went out to sow; if the present age is the kingdom then folks aren’t going to go out from Israel, they’re going to come to Israel.  And that’s the significance of the temple that will be functioning in the kingdom.  The whole world is going to be drawn to Israel to observe its greatness.  That’s what the prophets predict about the kingdom and so obviously the present age is different because people are going out from Israel to preach in a missionary type sense.

Beyond that, if you look at Matthew 13:19 it talks there about, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.”  Here it’s talking about a message going into the hearts of people, in this age.  Now that’s not the kingdom because the kingdom doesn’t enter people, rather it’s the other way around, right?  People will enter the kingdom.

And beyond that we know that this age, based on this parable, is not speaking of the kingdom because if  you look at Matthew 13:23 it says the earth will not be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.  What it says is the seed of the gospel is only fruitful on one type of soil.  [Matthew 13:23, “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”]  And even that fruitful soil, notice what it says at the end of verse 23, brings forth a yield of “a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”  So we go from a hundred to sixty to thirty; are those numbers increasing or decreasing?  They’re decreasing.  Now that can’t be the kingdom because when the kingdom comes the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.

And beyond that what’s going to happen to Satan once the kingdom comes?  He’s going to be bound in the abyss, Revelation 20:1-3.  There won’t be any harassment or spiritual warfare from Satan during the kingdom.  And you read this parable and it’s very clear that Satan is very active, isn’t it?  Doesn’t it talk there in verse 19 about the evil one coming and snatching away what’s sown in the hearts of people?  [Revelation 20:1-3, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. [2] And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; [3] and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”]

So you kind of work your way through this parable and you can very clearly see that Jesus here is not describing the kingdom, He’s describing something different.

So that takes care of the sower and what we’re going to move into tonight is the wheat and the tares, and if time permits we’ll also take a look at the mustard seed.  So hopefully you guys feel comfort­table; have I caught you up a little bit anyway.  Let’s take a look at the wheat and the tares.  Take a look if you could at Matthew 13:24-30.  This is parable number 2.

Matthew 13:24, “Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. [25] But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. [26] But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. [27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ [28] And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’  [29] But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.”  And look at verse 30, “Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’

Now fortunately the parable of the wheat and tares, just like the parable of the sower, we have an interpretation given by Jesus Himself later on in the chapter.  So if you drop down to verses 36-43 you see Jesus interpreting this parable of the wheat and the tares.

Verse 36 says, “Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.  [37] And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, [38] and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; [39] and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. [40] So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. [41] ‘The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, [42] and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [43] Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

So with each of these parables I’m going to try to give you a one sentence definition.  I tried to do that with the parable of the sower, the preaching of the gospel with various results.  What would be the one sentence definition or meaning of parable number 2, which is the parable of the wheat and the tares.  And I would define it this way: In the present age it’s going to be difficult to distinguish between the saved and the unsaved within professing Christendom.  We might put it this way: not everybody who goes to church is a Christian.  Amen!  Sitting in a church doesn’t make you a Christian, as I like to say, any more than sitting in McDonalds makes you a hamburger.  A lot of people in this world go to church because it’s just cultural or it’s what their family did, or they are trying to buy God off or whatever they’re trying to do.

But churches can have in them unregenerate people.  And this is why here at Sugar Land Bible Church every Sunday morning we give the gospel, because we don’t know who’s coming in, who’s going out, we have visitors all the time and we have no basis, many times, for understanding where people are at spiritually.  And in fact, this parable is so real that Jesus had twelve disciples, eleven of whom were believers, one of them was what?   An unbeliever, and his name was Judas.  Now when Jesus in the Upper Room said one of you is going to betray me they didn’t all say oh, I know it’s Judas.  They didn’t all point to Judas and say he’s the traitor.  What did they all say?  Is it me?  Is it me?  Is it me?  Because Judas just fit in like everybody else, he used the Christianese, he listened to the right Christian radio stations, probably, if they had them back then.  If they had a Bible he probably carried a big thick Bible.  But the man was unregenerate.

And so Jesus says in this present age you’re going to have this situation happening where you have saved and unsaved living right beside each other.  And in many cases you’re not even going to know the difference.  So you look at this and it’s very obvious that this description that He’s revealing here cannot be the kingdom of God.  There are several reasons for this.  Probably the primary reason is when the kingdom of God comes Isaiah 11 says, “For the earth will be filled of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”  [Isaiah 11:9]

So the kingdom is a time of universal faith, universal regeneration.  The knowledge of the Lord will know no boundaries.  And obviously this can’t be describing this age of time that Jesus is outlining here because He’s talking about saved and unsaved living together.  And in fact, in the parable the servant wanted to uproot the tares, the tares are unbelievers, the wheat are believers, and he was specifically told to not uproot them because if you tear out the tares you’re going to tear out in the process the what?  The wheat.  And so he says let both of them exist, co-exist together until the end of the age, then the kingdom will start and the Lord will make that separation.  And we know the Lord is going to make that separation at what’s called the sheep and goat judgment which begins the kingdom at the end of the tribulation, the separation of the sheep and the goats, believers from unbelievers takes place there, in Matthew 25:31-46.

So what Jesus is revealing here is not a description at all of Isaiah 11:9, the knowledge of the Lord filling the earth.  He’s talking about believers and unbelievers co-existing even within religious institutions.

And He goes on and He talks about, first of all, allow both to grow together, and that’s what these parables are unfolding here, the coexistence of good and evil together.  Let both grow together until the harvest.  Now look at the state of the tares.  [Matthew 13:30, “’Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’]

Now look at the state of the tares; are the tares unbelievers, are they decreasing or are they increasing?  If you look at verse 30, which I had up earlier, it says of the tares, when the kingdom finally comes and the Lord makes the separation, “First gather up the tares and bind them into” what? “bundles” that’s a lot of tares, isn’t it, so they’re not a little side group, the tares are so massive numerically that they have to be actually bundled up by the Lord when He starts the kingdom.  So what is this talking about?  This is talking about the progress of evil, within Christendom, gaining the upper hand.  And once  you start to see this you begin to understand what Paul is talking about in his final letter that we’ve studied at this church verse by verse called                 2 Timothy where he talks about “evil men and imposters waxing” what? “worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.  [2 Timothy 3:13]

And what Paul says in that final letter, he says in the last days we’re going to have a great revival and the world is going to be won to Christ… He doesn’t say that at all!  He says in the last days perilous times will come and He begins to explain to Timothy that all who seek to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  So if you’re a faithful pastor preaching out of His Bible as these tares increase what you’re going to discover, Timothy, and any other pastor, faithful pastor by way of extension is the church world itself will increasingly become hostile to you.  And to be honest with you I’ve had a lot more success getting along with unregenerated people than may times people that name the name of Christ.

Some of the worst attacks you could ever experience take place within believing Christendom and as you get on the social media, which I don’t recommend you spend too much time doing, and try to make some kind of bold statement about the exclusivity of Christ or the deity of Christ or salvation by faith alone, or call out a false teacher within the body of Christ, someone who’s obviously a false teacher and man, you’d better have your seatbelt fastened because you’re just going to get hit by people that claim that they know Christ.  And this is what Jesus is explaining here, these tares are increasing.

Arthur Pink, who I have a lot of respect for his handling of these parables so I quote him a lot in the book I wrote.  Notice what Arthur Pink says here: “This parable, like the former,” that would be the wheat and the tares, like the sower parable, “also supplies a most conclusive refutation of the unscriptural dreams of post-millennialism.”  Now post-millennialism is people that think that we’re bringing in the kingdom.  I mean, do you think we’re bringing in the kingdom right now?  It’s like do these people read the newspaper, do they see what’s going on within Christendom today?  “They believe that, through the preaching of the Gospel (under the blessing of God), the cause of Christ will extend, until the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. But Christ here explicitly declared that the wheat and the tares should “grow together until the harvest,” which He defined as “the end of the age.” Pink says, “He,” that’s Jesus, “gave no hint that the ‘tares’ would gradually die out, or that they would decrease in numbers; but announced that, at the end, they would be found in such quantity as to need binding “in bundles.”

So the Lord is giving to these disciples a realistic picture of the course of the present age and it’s not all flowers and sunshine.  God is clearly at work in this age because we don’t just have tares but we have what?  Wheat, so praise God for that.  But this is not an age where good overcomes evil. It’s an age where good and evil are co-existing.

And you’ll notice also that there’s no separation between the wheat and the tares until when?  The “end of the age.” So don’t expect thigs to improve until Jesus returns at the end of the tribulation period and establishes Hs kingdom.

Arthur Pink says this: ““This parable, like the former,” I read most of this, let me just highlight this sentence,  “But Christ here explicitly declared that the wheat and the tares should ‘grow together until the harvest,’ which He defined as “the end of the age.” So don’t expect this coexistence of good and evil to get resolved until the kingdom itself is finally manifested on planet earth.  So obviously Jesus here can’t be talking about what Isaiah revealed about the kingdom, the knowledge of the Lord covering the entire earth.

And by the way, did you notice what Satan is doing in this parable.  He’s very active, isn’t he, just like he was active in the prior parable, the parable of the sower.  We also see Satan active in the wheat and the tares parable.  We see him there in verse 25 of Matthew 13, “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.”  Notice when Satan is active—when everybody else is asleep.

And it reminds me very much of the United States, founded, I believe, largely as a Christian nation, not a perfect nation, and while the Christian world is sound asleep, thinking everything is safe here, here comes the United States Supreme Court throwing Bible and prayer out of the public schools, making abortion on demand a constitutional right, and within a decade or two the whole culture shifts, largely because of those decisions.  And if  you go back and you interview people that were alive, as most of you were, I wasn’t, I was born in 1966 so I’m a little younger than some of you, a little younger than Richard anyway….  But if you talk to people that were alive during that time, if I could use that expression, they just never saw it coming.  Everybody was sound asleep, everything is fine here in the United States and then boom, Satan goes to work and the tares start to sprout.

So it’s a great parable here on the strategy of Satan; I mean, when you’re sound asleep that’s really the time you think everything is fine and you have this false sense of security, that’s the time to be sober and be alert because the devil prowls around like a sweet pussy cat… NO, like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.

If you drop down to verse 28  you’ll see the devil at work again, “And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?”  So here Satan is called the enemy.  Did you all know that, as a Christian you have an enemy?  In fact, you have three enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil.  You never had those enemies before you got saved.  Now you’ve got three enemies that tag team on you constantly.  So Satan here is called “An enemy” in this parable.

And then as you go down to verses 38-39 it says, “and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;” [39, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.”]  So notice that God has sons and Satan has sons.  We are God’s sons or heirs of His kingdom and the devil has his own children, unbelievers who can look, sometimes a lot like believers, very religious people, very moral people, but they are actually sons of the devil.   It reminds me very much of what Jesus said in John 8:44 to the Pharisees, “You are of your father, the devil,” He tells them that they are… who were the Pharisees?  They were the most righteous men in the nation, and Jesus specifically tells them that they are basically the progeny, spiritually, of the devil Himself.  So it’s no wonder they wanted Christ dead.

But my point is you see how accurate Satan is here?  Verses 38 and 39.  Verse 28, verse 25, now how in the world could this be the kingdom?  The kingdom is a time when Satan is bound.  Revelation 20:1-3 of the kingdom says, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. [2] And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; [3] and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”

So during the course of that thousand year kingdom Satan is in solitary confinement I guess we could say.  He’s in incarceration.  So how in the world could this be a description of the kingdom when Satan is active.  Jesus specifically says the enemy who sowed them is the devil.”  [Matthew 13:39]  So you start looking at the details of the text and it’s obvious Jesus is talking about an age of time very different than the kingdom.

Beyond that the kingdom itself is not going to be established until when?  Until this age is over.  Once this age is over and the Lord makes a separation between the wheat and the tares and that’s commensurate with Israel’s conversion at the end of the tribulation period, until that time comes don’t expect the kingdom to be manifested.  The kingdom doesn’t come until the end of the age.

And take a look at Matthew 13:43, It says, “Then,” now “Then” follows what?  Follows this description of the coexistence between good and evil.  “Then” only after this stage runs its course, “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” In other words, the child of God in the present age is under oppression, being mistreated, being persecuted.  That’s the natural posture of a Christian.  And sometimes when we suffer we ask ourselves, well, what did I do wrong?  I must be outside of the will of God.  If we knew our Bibles well we would see that we’re exactly in the will of God.  Jesus told us exactly what would happen; expect a lot of injustice, a lot of unfair treatment, and a lot of oppression.  Some Christians when they don’t get a fair shake or in the movies a Christian is not portrayed favorably.

By the way, I’ve hardly ever seen recently a Christian portrayed favorably in the movies.  They don’t even make movies any more that portray Christians favorably.  The last movie I can think of where a Christian was portrayed favorably was Chariots of Fire.  Did you all see that?  That was a great movie.  But since Chariots of Fire came and went, that was what, 1980 something that movie was made, I’ve never seen a movie where a Christian is treated fairly.

If you could identify a movie I could probably identify ten, that treat the Christian unfairly.  In fact, when I watch a movie today, and I try not to watch too many of them, when I see the axe murderer at the beginning of the movie or the bad guy I say well, it’s just a matter of time before the plot unfolds and we discover that guy is a Bible believing fundamentalist.  It’s like the movie, Shawshank Redemption, did you see that, the warden who’s running a whole money laundering scam and mistreating everybody. He’s the guy with his Bible open, holding the Bible, and this is how the movies are set up today.  And we look at that and we’re so shocked, how could they do that?  Well, Jesus said this would happen.  Jesus says you’re not going to get a fair shake.  This is not the age where you’re going to be ruling and reigning; that age is yet future.  That age is yet future in the kingdom.  In the present age expect unfair treatment, expect a coexistence of good and evil.

So does the parable of the wheat and the tares like the parable of the sower, does it teach the existence of the kingdom today.  Obviously not.  It talks about saved and unsaved growing up together.  It talks about the unsaved or the evil increasing. It talks about the fact that there won’t be a separation between good and evil until the manifestation of the kingdom of God at the end of the age.  This parable is talking about a time where Satan is just having a field day, pardon the expression, but he’s actually having a field day today.  He’s the god of this age and that can’t be describing the kingdom.  Satan is bound.  And don’t expect the kingdom to be established until this age runs its course.

So that is the parable of the wheat and the tares.  And I was going to do the mustard seed tonight but I think I’ll stop.  This would be a good time to stop, this is enough reality for one evening, don’t you think?  So we can let folks go to pick up their kids if they need to do that.  Actually you might shock the nursery workers back there getting out 12 minutes early, that never happens here, it’s usually the opposite. Right?   But that means I get to preach ten minutes longer on Sunday.  [Laughter]  So I’m keeping track.  But we can open it up for Q and A if you guys want to do that.

[Someone asks a question, can’t hear]  The immediate audience would be the remnant of believing Jews, that’s who Jesus was speaking to, but I think it’s broader, you can apply it to all believers outside the land of Israel because we know the gospel is going to go outside the land of Israel.  So it would be the remnant of believing Jews, which is a minority and we can apply that to us today because we’re sons of the kingdom to, even though we’re not Jewish.

[Someone asks a question, can’t hear]  You’ll notice that when he uses the word “kingdom” he never defines it.  So we have to build our understanding of the kingdom from what has preceded.  Right?  So that’s why I spent 17 lessons going through what the Old Testament reveals about the kingdom.  So the error people make is when they see the word kingdom they just pour into it whatever meaning they want but it’s a meaning that’s technical that needs to be unpacked from the Old Testament.  That’s a good question.

Any other thoughts or questions.  You guys are just shocked at getting out early.  Yes.  Well, I don’t want to say the worst because we’re to be people of joy but we shouldn’t have an unrealistic view of life today.  We should expect mistreatment and injustice.  Now fortunately God equips us for the battle because He says “put on the full armor of God” so we have equipment, spiritual equipment but unless you have a realistic appraisal of the present age you don’t really have an understanding why you need equipment to begin with.  In the kingdom age you won’t need to put on the armor of God, you won’t even have to pray for your daily bread in the kingdom age.  We don’t even pray for that here in America, do we?  I know where my bread is coming from, I’ve got a refrigerator full of food; my problem is getting rid of the weight, not gaining weight.  So we’re very maxed out and spoiled here in America but you go around the world and they’re basically wondering where their next meal is going to come from.

So you know, I don’t want to depress everybody, we’re on the winning side but we shouldn’t look at this life as the kingdom; it couldn’t be the kingdom.  I hope that helps some.